Dear Pageant Girl,

Is it just me or are there not enough Indigenous faces in the Australian pageant industry?

Am I the only one who thinks it’s high time that we had an Indigenous face represent us in one of the big international pageants?  The last time we had an Indigenous girl make it through the state level was in 2009.  We had a gorgeous girl compete in the QLD heats in 2011 by the name of Tahny Lew.

This year surfaced a diamond in the rough in the form of a beautiful black sister from Broken Hill.  Spotted by Dear Pageant Girl at the NSW Heats for Miss Universe Australia, she didnt have the best styling or the best dress but she had presence and a look good enough to feature on a Kooey runway.

We were surprised and perplexed that she was not one of the chosen few to progress on to the State Finals, but Dear Pageant Girl will continue to champion the fight to have more Indigenous faces in our pageants and have people recognise not only the beauty, but the importance of positive Indigenous representation in mainstream media.

We need more Sisters to get on board to elevate and uplift their communities and we are hoping this girl is the catalyst for that.

It is our pleasure to introduce to you Lisa Joy Glenda Kickett of Broken Hill NSW.

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Im from Broken Hill, I am a full time Aboriginal mental health worker, studying distance education doing a bachelor of health science (mental health) through Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. It’s a 3 year degree which I will finish this year.

What is your motivation in joining pageants?

My motivation is to show the younger women especially Indigenous women from my area and the remote towns that no matter where you’re from there are opportunities out there. There are so many beautiful and smart Aboriginal girls out there and we need more – I want to show Australia that I’m proud to be Aboriginal and an Aussie and to represent my people.

What do you know about the pageant industry in Australia?

I don’t know a lot about the pageants; just from the word of mouth and interest from them but I would certainly like to know more and pass on the information to girls here and encourage them to have a go.

Which pageant are you most familiar with?

Mostly familiar with the Miss Universe pageant

How did you feel when your name was not called out as one of the NSW Finalists for Miss Universe Australia?

I did feel a little sad that I didn’t get picked because I was hoping to hear my name and we did a lot of preparation and hard work for the event.  However, I am thankful for the opportunity and had a great time.  It was a great experience.

Are pageants still relevant in this day and age?

I think pageants are still relevant as this world is forever changing.  It’s hard living these days; as a young person there are a lot of pressures on them to be something and look a certain way, and Miss Universe is about being a role model and providing positive influences on young women today so it’s definitely relevant to keep those strong messages as a role model to the younger generations.

Apart from the crown, what do you hope to gain from this experience?

To gain experience in how and the way pageants are run, and just everything about it from catwalk to speaking in front of Australia and to represent my people.

Who are your role models?

My role models are the elders in my life and community, my grandmothers are great role models to me because they are the strongest and respected people that I know and show great wisdom and knowledge that I will always carry with me.

Tell me something interesting about yourself

I recently have been accepted in the Indigenous youth leadership program (IYLP) through Youth Challenge Australia where I will be going to Vanuatu in June for six weeks doing community development. This is my first time overseas and am looking forward to it!!

What kind of preparations have you gone through for this competition?

A lot including catwalk classes, fitness, eating healthy, organising flights accommodation, support from the community, getting all the essentials dresses, hair, makeup, jewellery, shoes, etc.., learning about the history of Miss Universe, watching past footage.

What do you think is the state of Indigenous affairs in the fashion and entertainment industries?

There is definitely not enough positive role models and people being shown or talked about in that industry.  The media is quick to highlight Indigenous people as soon as something  negative or bad happens in a community.  Good and more positive stories need to be highlighted for our people to show not only Australia but the world that we have some of the most beautiful intelligent and knowledgeable people. Encouraging and strengthening our people whether its going in a pageant or working in a community they love to help our people, this is what needs to be shown.

Are the Indigenous communities open to being part of this?

I think so, any kind of positive messages and stories about them that they are proud that can be heard will definitely be something they would be a part of.

What is the level of interest among young women when it comes to beauty pageants?

Coming from a small town I think that there is a little bit of interest because I think every girl wants to feel beautiful, but because we are so remote there is a lack of resources and little knowledge about it, so more knowledge and someone they know and can relate to entering in it will hopefully inspire the young girls here to give it a go.

Any advice, lessons for the industry on what to look out for when judging our Indigenous talent?

I think just taking in consideration that you know some of these things are quite new to Indigenous girls so it’s important to provide just some encouragement.  I’m proud to have given this a go as I think my participation shows great strength in being able to get up in front of Australia and say “hey, I’m beautiful and smart and proud to be who I am and where I am from!”

What is next for you, Lisa?

What is next for me is to continue doing what I am doing at the moment, taking opportunities that come along, working on my portfolio and just trying to get out there and be a strong voice and hopefully a leader that young people can look up to. Whatever the future holds I will continue to challenge and push myself to work hard and be proud of who I am whether its in the entertainment industry or working within my community.

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(All images courtesy of our favorite photographer Nelson Cortez of FIN Photography)

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